The Inter-Governmental Authority on Development (IGAD) said in a statement issued in Nairobi that plans to increase awareness on migration and human smuggling in the region to help counter the challenge.
Caroline Njuki, the Regional Migration Coordinator at the IGAD Secretariat, traffickers are deceiving potential migrants of the existence of opportunities that will pull them out of poverty.
“Coupled by cartels of traffickers that seek to exploit, this challenge has made trafficking of human beings a sad reality of our time,” Njuki said in the statement.
Njuki said these promises often end up in massive exploitation, slavery and human rights abuses often with no recourse as migrants are afraid or cannot access justice during bondage or exploitation.
Human trafficking syndicates use trucks to smuggle thousands of desperate migrants from Ethiopia, Eritrea and Somalia across land borders into the Red Sea or the Mediterranean Sea. Kenya, which is a growing source of migrant workers, hosts three main trafficking routes.
The traffickers use crossing points in Mandera, Moyale and Liboi to cross into Somalia, before proceeding to Bossaso, from where they pay traffickers to smuggle them through the sea into Yemen, then Italy.
There is also group of migrants using the three border crossings in Northeastern Kenya to travel Southwards through Tanzania towards South Africa.
However, officials at the Immigration department says 12 routes used by international trafficking cartels through which victims from neighbouring countries end up in destinations as far away as South Africa, Europe, the U.S. and Canada.
The bloc said it has convened the 6th Meeting of the Regional Consultative Process (RCP) on Migration in Djibouti on Thursday to focus on trafficking in Persons and migrant smuggling.
Participants to the two-day dialogue are drawn from authorities of departments of immigration, labour and institutions with mandate to address trafficking in persons and migrant smuggling from IGAD Member States, as well as invited transit and destination countries.
“We hope to increase awareness around these issues between countries of origin, transit and destination, as well as forge a common understanding on regional initiatives and responses to the challenge,” said Njuki, adding that the dialogue will also be used to build partnership and promote good practices.
The RCP will also provide a platform for international organizations to present their programs and initiatives that member states could benefit from.
The IGAD region is composed of 8 countries in the Horn of Africa that experience in and out migration influenced by many push and pull factors. The migration landscape is shaped by the political, economic and social realities of the region.
It is estimated that 3 percent of the total world population (up to 240 million people) is on the move with this likely to increase even further especially due to the forces of globalization that facilitate access and exchange of information, transportation and the desire by people to improve life for themselves and their families. Enditem